While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50 NIV).
As you may have experienced before, your family and close friends can begin to relate with you in an unpleasant manner when you elevate to a higher level in your Christianity. If you haven’t experienced it, don’t be surprised or troubled if you do eventually. It comes with the journey.
In our walk with the Lord, it is of upmost importance that we take a close look at the people we choose to keep close to us. Why are you close to the people that you’re close to? What role do they play in helping you to become a better Christian? When you examine your relationships (friends, family, significant other, etc.) very carefully, the answers to these questions can be quite unsettling. As you develop yourself spiritually, you will come to a point where your thoughts, words, and actions will not be what your loved ones may be used to. They may even feel threatened by the person you’ve become. If they are not maturing spiritually or if they are not born again, it will be difficult to maintain a close relationship with them.
Due to gross misconceptions about Christianity and the fear of starting an argument, it is very discouraging for many people to talk about God with their friends, family or anyone else in their sphere of contact. I have observed that it is a common feeling among believers that they don’t want to impose their beliefs on someone else. However, we should not be ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Jesus told his disciples “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32, 33 NIV). It is important to remember where your primary allegiance lies; it is to Jesus Christ, the rock of your salvation. In the opening verse, Jesus made it very clear who his true family was and why. Let Him be your example.
We belong to Christ, therefore we must demonstrate what He represents to those who don’t know Him or are babes in the Lord. There are certain things and people that should cease to be a part of our lives. The Bible says that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) so we must use that mind to make wise decisions concerning our relationships. You know what is right and what is wrong because of the gift of righteousness given to you.
Now you may ask, “Does this mean I should ignore all of my friends and family that are not born again or not living right?” No it does not. We are called the light of the world so the time that we spend with growing Christians and unbelievers must be spent constructively; by that I mean working towards building them unto maturity or bringing them to salvation. Carry yourself in such a way that makes it obvious that you are separated unto God. Your Christianity should never be in question because of how you behave. When people see you, they should know that you belong to God. You may be persecuted because of your commitment to the Lord, but it shouldn’t come as a shock to you because Jesus already said “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36 KJV). On another occasion He said “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19 KJV).
So how do you deal with such persecution? By responding the word-way. Don’t react by your emotions no matter what people may do or say to you. Jesus tells us “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44 KJV). Labor in prayer for those who do not understand the life in Christ that you have. They may mistreat you for a time, but God’s word on your lips will always prevail. Until then, receive the words that Paul wrote to Timothy, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3 KJV). God bless you.
Faith, hope, and love